Spotmatictastic!

As mentioned earlier this week, Boris, a good friend of mine has lent me his father-in-law’s old Pentax Spotmatic 35mm camera. Rumour has it, it was purchased sometime in the late 60s, so its a fairly old piece of kit, older than me, at least (though not older than Boris. Sorry Boris!). As sometimes happens when new technologies come along to replace the old, this camera has spent much of its time unused, tucked away in a cupboard somewhere. Boris (not his real name, just the name I bestowed upon him many moons ago for reasons that I won’t go into here) wasn’t sure if it was still in good working order, it required a new battery to power the light meter as the old mercury one had long since run out and looking through the view finder there were a few large specs of something or other…

Otherwise, though, it looked in good nick, so I decided to throw caution to the wind and fork out a few quid getting it up and running again. £5.50 on a new zinc battery (apparently mercury batteries were so bad for the environment that they stopped making them in the early 90s. You could still buy 4 star petrol in the early 90s, so mercury batteries must have been badass!) from the Small Battery Company and £20ish on five rolls of Ilford HP5 Plus 400 film and we were ready to return the Spotmatic to action.

I found that its quite a different approach shooting film, as oppose to digital, and a little frustrating too. I still got the same feeling when my finger pressed the button and I thought I’d captured something good, but I couldn’t immediately confirm that it was definitely the case like I can with my digital camera, which did my head in at first. I’d read that because the zinc battery that powers the light meter was more powerful than its mercury counterpart I would have to compensate by slightly underexposing each shot, so I decided that I would shoot one roll of film and see what, if anything, came back. This, manually focusing the 50mm lens (no AF!) and having only 36 exposures to play with made me stop and consider the shot more than I would have had I been shooting digital, I think. It certainly gave me a whole new appreciation of how skilled and talented pre-digital photographers are.

So, the film runs out. I have at least a dozen more shots I want to get. Bugger… I take the film roll to the lovely folks at CC Imaging and wait an agonizing wait. A full 24 hours! Does the camera work? Had I got the exposure right? Would there be black specs of something or other on every print? Would I have wasted my time?

Well, have a look and see what you think. I’m pretty chuffed with what I got, but more chuffed that the camera still works after 40 odd years. The photos haven’t been altered or enhanced in anyway in post, so what you see is exactly as the camera captured it. I think its done a great job, hope you agree.

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http://www.smallbattery.company.org.uk/

http://www.ilfordphoto.com/products/product.asp?n=7

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Bits of train

Taken on a visit to the National Railway Museum in York last month. Going for a Lewis Wickes Hine’s Powerhouse Mechanic – heavy industrial, black and white – vibe with these ones. I recently borrowed a 1960s Pentax Spotmatic from a good friend of mine and, armed with some black and white film, took some shots at Sunnybank Mills near Leeds. I’ve no idea if he camera still works (the film is currently being processed at CC Imaging in Leeds) but if it does I’ll hopefully have some more industrial, black and white, images to show by the end of the week. Toodle pip for now.

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http://www.nrm.org.uk/

http://www.ccimaging.co.uk/

Boxing Buddies and Boxing Bodies

A few weeks ago I did a shoot for ‘Boxing Buddies/Boxing Bodies’, a newly established boxercise class held at Savoy Youth and Community Centre in Skelmanthorpe and also at Bodyzone Fitness Centre in Scissett. The class caters for both children (Boxing Buddies) and adults (Boxing Bodies) and from where I was standing it looked like a great way to keep fit. Its a non-contact activity, so you don’t have worry about going toe to toe and getting punched repeatedly in the head like Rocky Balboa during his epic bout against the mighty Ivan Drago.

The shoot itself was an enjoyable one, though not without its challenges. Jason Dockray, the man responsible for running the class, and I had discussed the shots that we wanted to get beforehand, how many were required and how they would be used on his website. We arrived at the magic figure on twelve, which doesn’t sound a lot I admit, however, we only had a two hour window at Savoy Youth and Community Centre to achieve our goal, so the pressure was on.

The room itself presented a few issues for consideration. Firstly, it was a pretty characterless white room, so we had to figure out a few ways of making it appear less sterile and more ‘gym-like’ and, secondly, it was a fairly large space top fill and as it is a new venture for Jason we only had a handful of ‘clients’, made up of family and friends, to pose for the camera. So, after adorning the walls with banners/posters and as much boxercise equipment as we had, I decided to shoot as close as possible in order to minimize the effect the sterile nature of the room would have. I think I just about got away with it too and, actually, with the bright, minimalist, colour scheme of white, yellow and blue, I think the photos fit in really nicely with the general aesthetic of the website.

The saying goes, never work with animals and children but, honestly, all the kids involved in the shoot were great. To say that none of them had any previous experience of being photographed under such conditions, they all did really well. Its really tiring repeatedly punching those pads, at the request of some bloke with a camera doing no more exercise than pressing a button, but they all rose to the challenge and worked really hard as you can see by the pics below.

Despite the time constraints we managed to achieve the majority of our goals for the day and although at times I felt like I wasn’t sure if I was ducking or weaving I had a great time and came away pleased with the photographs I’d taken and I’m happy to say that Jason is pleased with them too.

If you fancy having a go at a Boxing Bodies/Buddies class yourself, click on the link below for more info. Jason’s a top bloke and a very knowledgeable instructor so you’ll be in good hands.

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http://www.boxingbodies.co.uk

http://www.bodyzonefitnesscentre.co.uk/index.html

Easter egg hunt (part 1)

Now, I fully acknowledge that these pics do not in any way suggest an Easter egg hunt, however, they were taken whilst I was taking part in one at Nostell Priory last weekend, honest! To prove it I shall post some more photos, one of which will contain at least one Easter egg, later this week. Contain yourselves!

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